The Central Bank of Nigeria on Tuesday unveiled a N300bn special intervention fund to boost non-oil exports in the country.
The announcement was contained in a communique issued at the end of a non-oil export conference conveyed by the CBN and the Nigerian Export-Import Bank.
The central bank stated in the communique that the intervention fund would be given to exporters at an interest rate of not more than nine per cent.
The communique read in part, “The governor of the CBN committed that the CBN will continue to play a catalyst role in improving exports.
“The CBN will also make N300bn as export stimulation intervention fund available to exporters at not more than nine per cent.”
The CBN Governor, Mr. Godwin Emefiele, had earlier indicated that the country might be heading for tougher times because it recorded a decline of $6.14bn (N1.2tn) in non-oil exports receipts from $10.53bn in 2014 to $4.39bn in 2015.
This is coming against the backdrop of weak oil prices, which have seen a significant drop in crude prices from a peak of $114 barrel in July 2014 to as low as $28 currently.
The country’s reserves have also suffered great pressure from speculative attacks, round-tripping and front-loading activities by actors in the foreign exchange market, making it to decline from $37.3bn in June 2014 to about N28bn currently.
Emefiele blamed the decline on the low level of export loans from the banking sector.
He said available statistics showed that while credit to non-oil exports had been declining in the last five years, credit to the economy had been on the increase.
Emefiele, who put the total credit to the non-oil export sector at 0.6 per cent of domestic credit to the economy, explained that such level of funding could not unlock the potential of the non-oil sector.
He said the conference, with the theme, ‘Growing Nigeria’s non-oil exports’ was put together by the CBN and the Nigerian Export-Import Bank as part of measures aimed at increasing the sector’s contribution to economic growth.
He said, “Exports are an essential component in the national income and it have a very important role in supporting the nation’s economy against the backdrop of weak oil prices.
“It has been observed that while credit to non-oil exports is declining and currently at an average of 0.6 per cent of total domestic loans to the private sector in the last five years, the domestic credit to the economy has been on the rise.
“The low level of export loans has no doubt also contributed to a large extent to the decline in non-oil export revenue receipts from $10.53bn in 2014 to $4.39bn in 2015.”